Tokyo stocks climbed on Friday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index gaining 1.86 percent as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou backed away from a referendum that could potentially derail a bailout plan for debt-plagued Greece and risk aversion was reversed following better-than- expected factory orders in the United States.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday appeared to reverse plans to hold a referendum on the EU's bailout plan, which would wipe out half of Greece's debt, but see strict austerity measures imposed.
Local traders here said that Wall Street gained overnight on the news, which turned sentiment positive in Tokyo, as the package, the largest-ever of it kind to be unrolled for any country, has been designed to help Greece deal with its crippling debt and provide an economic lifeline for the troubled eurozone in general.
"Greece's backdown on a referendum fueled confidence in the market as the worst-case scenario, where that country exits the euro zone, can be avoided," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, a senior strategist in Tokyo at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co. " Germany and France are coming out strongly in support of maintaining the euro, which is good for the market," he said.
But while the referendum now looks unlikely, analysts said that political turmoil in Athens may not be in Greece's best interests as Papandreou facing a confidence vote in parliament on Friday threatens to create a political vacuum, and calls from opposition parties for him to resign are growing fierce.
"Everything is on the table. Well, the government will be. But let's talk about it. Let's debate it," Papandreou said. "You don't expect -- out of the blue -- for a government to resign. That would be irresponsible. We cannot at this period of time leave a vacuum in power," he said.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 160.98 points from Wednesday to close at 8,801.40, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 13.44 points, or 1.82 percent, to finish the day at 752.02. Markets in Tokyo were closed on Thursday for a national holiday.
Also contributing to a positive market mood on Friday and helping reverse risk aversion was news that factory orders rose in the U.S. in September.
Factories in the U.S. unexpectedly received more orders in September, in as sign the world's largest economy remains resilient to the global economic downturn. Orders rose 0.3 percent after a revised 0.1 percent gain in August, the Commerce Department said, beating median market forecasts for a 0.2 percent retraction in the recording period.
But as some macroeconomic data from the U.S. came in better- than-expected, traders here said that some investors hit the sidelines ahead of the release of key U.S. jobs data for October and on the results from the Group of 20 summit in Cannes, France, on further resolutions for the troubled eurozone.
Japan's automakers found traction, however, as the yen dipped against its major rivals and Honda climbed 4.1 percent to 2,398 yen, while Nissan leapt 4.9 percent to 735 yen following the firm raising its full-year net income projection ending next March by 7. 4 percent to 3.7 billion U.S. dollars. Toyota Motor, meanwhile, added 1.9 percent to end the day at 2,552 yen.
Machinery makers gained on renewed optimism about the global economic outlook and commodity-related issues rose as crude hit a three-month high in New York and a key gauge of metal prices climbed in London.
Construction equipment maker Komatsu soared 6.9 percent to 1, 970 yen, Fanuc Corp. gained 4.3 percent to 12,880 yen and SMC Corp. rallied 4 percent to finish at 12,430 yen.
Among trading houses, Mitsui advanced 2.7 percent to 1,134 yen, while larger rival Mitsubishi Corp. added 2.3 percent to finish the day at 1,586 yen.
Sony Corp. was among the day's notable decliners, tumbling 7.9 percent to 1,400 yen, following the consumer electronics giant reporting a net loss of 345 million U.S. dollars in its fiscal second quarter and saying it expects to lose over 1 billion U.S. dollars this fiscal year, to mark its fourth consecutive year in the red.
Trading volume on Friday dropped to 1.67 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Wednesday's volume of 1. 76 billion shares, with advancing issues outnumbering declining ones by 1,262 to 286.